This Sheet-Pan Pasta Is the Best Reason to Turn on Your Oven Right Now

Blistered cherry tomatoes, sweet red onions, and creamy roasted garlic star in this weeknight-friendly pasta.

August 29, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

Fact: I almost never turn on my oven in the summer. Because doing so in my 300 square foot apartment, which has just one window that I can actually open, creates a hot, dense hellscape I'd rather not subject myself to.

Another fact: The rare times I do turn on my oven in the period from, let's say, June to September, is to make this gloriously summery pasta. In my mind, it's the only recipe that's worth it.

It's also worth mentioning that, as much as I am devoted to this recipe, its origin is a bit of a mystery. My recollection is that four or five years ago in college, my boyfriend came to me with a balsamic-roasted cherry tomato and red onion pasta that we absolutely had to try.

I don't remember whether he explicitly said it was or not, but I just assumed this summer masterpiece was a Jamie Oliver creation (my boyfriend's a big-time Jamie Oliver fan). My boyfriend doesn't remember either, and the closest thing I can find on the Naked Chef's website is this, which is close but not quite; the balsamic comes into play post-roasting of the tomatoes.

Regardless of where it came from, this pasta is—to use one of Jamie's favorite words—brilliant.

Behold, the magic of balsamic and a quick stint in the oven. Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

First off, you only need a small handful of ingredients: ripe cherry tomatoes, half a red onion, a few garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and basil.

And the method is also super-simple: Slice the cherry tomatoes and onions and throw them on your sheet pan; drizzle the vegetables with the balsamic and oil (plus a pinch of salt and pepper); then wrap the peeled garlic cloves nice and tight in aluminum foil and stick the foil packet on the same pan. Roast the whole thing in the oven until the cherry tomatoes are glazed and blistered, the red onions caramelized and just a touch crispy, and the garlic soft, creamy, and caramelized in the best way.

Pull it out of the oven—it should only take about 20 minutes, so your kitchen will hopefully never get too hot. Break up the garlic on the sheet pan, toss in the cooked pasta, a splash of pasta water for silkiness, basil, and grated Parm.

Mix, mix, mix, and just like that, it's ready to serve up on a big platter. As for me, I've been known to skip the plate and dig straight into the sheet pan on more than one occasion.

While this pasta is great as-is, it's totally flexible and easy to riff on: by adding a few shakes of red pepper flakes, swapping in different summer veg (zucchini is lovely here), or throwing a mound of fresh burrata over the finished pasta (heaven). Whatever you do, hurry up and turn on your oven to make it before summer's over.

Would you turn on the oven for this tomatoey sheet-pan pasta? Tell us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.